Television

Transform by tackling moral dilemmas: Sudhanshu Vats

Data is an important decision maker today

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MUMBAI: Media companies can no longer ask ‘if’ changes are happening. They are, there’s no doubt about it. But now it’s a question of how to respond. Addressing the CII Big Picture 2018 in New Delhi, Viacom18 group CEO and MD Sudhanshu Vats spoke on the topic of ‘Changing M&E landscape - from convergence to transformation’.

According to him, the industry is battling moral dilemmas. “If you step back and introspect about all that is happening with our industry across the world, you will agree that we are battling several changes - and most of them are a result of moral dilemmas and our response to them. If we can tackle these dilemmas successfully (and defining success is the hardest part), we can believe that we have transformed,” Vats commented.

Another issue bothering the industry is about misusing its reach and credibility to influence electoral processes across the world. Equally troublesome is ensuring fairness in terms of availability of content to consumers and parity across distribution platforms, especially in the future when convergence is going to dial up vertical integration across value chains.

As the content consumption on digital is increasing rapidly, the access of media companies to consumer data will also go up. He said, “As consumption moves online, our access to data will increase. In many ways, data will be a competitive advantage and drive advertising revenues and personalised user experiences – what processes do we put in place to ensure it is not misused – how and where do we draw the line differentiating personalization versus privacy?”

Correctly treating their biggest asset, human resources, both on screen and off, is also necessary. “How do we react when their individual, personal behaviour questions the fabric of the society we want to create? Think of this especially in light of the recent issues around diversity and inclusion that we’ve experienced. It’s important for everyone, but especially so for our industry,” he said.

He also added that the list of moral dilemmas is endless. Hence, everyone needs to be cognizant of these dilemmas as organisations, industry bodies, policymakers and governments as they look to scale up businesses.

“I’ve always been an ardent supporter of data and its importance in driving decision making. In this address, I have not used a single data point – because I believe that the course we take over the next decade will be determined more by these fundamental issues of values and how we tackle moral dilemmas than just commercial considerations,” he said.

“Driving consensus will be difficult yet more important than ever before. This is even more so given that India is today amongst the world’s largest ‘open’ media markets and home to a multitude of players from all over and of all sizes,” he added.

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